In the past couple of months, I read many books some good and some not so good but I hardly had the time to share my learnings. Definitely, good books took me along on a great journey and left me with something which enhanced my perspective and influenced my behavior for the better. One such good book was Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport, I found it extremely relevant to the dynamics we are living in. We live in a VUCA world where the ability to concentrate is often hard to come by. With the advancement in technology, the entire world just happens to be a click away! Indeed, many things have become easier yet there are certain aspects that are perhaps getting challenging like focusing on the ONE thing. Look around yourself, we are surrounded by non-stop digital chatter likes, comments, emails, mentions, and messages continuously clamoring for our time. Also, it is apparent that we are developing this temptation to constantly hover on different social media channels and resist the off-screen. Well, there is a dark aftermath of all these distractions, for instance, sloppy living and dwindling human connection. In this post, we would diagnose the problem and attempt to take back our control. Furthermore, we will work out a compelling plan to reclaim our attention in this era of mass distractions.
Picture this, you’re out at a beautiful restaurant or bar and the atmosphere is electric. You look around and everybody seems to be having fun. One group is sitting in near-total silence with their heads bent over their phones. It seems to be a group of team members or maybe it’s an entire family. Either way, they’re not talking, they’re not communicating. And they’re certainly not connecting. The underlying message here is that divided attention cripples the ability to connect and communicate with others. A scene like this might seem insignificant. After all, what’s the big deal about a group of people dining in silence? In itself, not much, but it does underscore a much wider issue. Many members of the team might not know how to talk to others, especially with whom they have always connected virtually. This can even touch the aspects like leaders struggling to connect with the teams working on the ground, couples often speaking past each other, and children today simply tuning their parents out. In all these examples, the common denominator is unrewarding and ineffective communication. Our habits of constantly checking on what’s going-on on various social platforms are making us a lot unsocial! It is far more tempting to disengage from real-world conversations. This is very dangerous for young adults and children who are in a constant loop of a hyperactive loop of gratification.
Manage your awareness
Here is an exercise for you, reflect back over the course of your life and try to remember all the hours you’ve spent staring at a screen time, spent scrolling through newsfeeds, watching videos, and fielding through various messages. If you’re like the majority of us, you’ll probably find it challenging to point out any very precise memories. Most probably, all you’ll remember is a general haze of information forgotten, goals missed, and hours misspent. This is mindless consumption that you might feel like nothing’s at stake, but these moments of distraction can bleed into days, weeks, months, and even years. Certain people find they’ve been living in autopilot mode for as long as they can remember.
So what can we do about it? – Well, we need to manage our awareness. This is the first step in taking back control. We need to acknowledge attention as a precious commodity. It is a valuable resource, which is like a bank account that can be depleted over time. When a disciplined mind concentrates on a task, it’s like a powerful flashlight, precise, bright, and brilliantly illuminating. While on the other hand, a distracted mind is like a flickering and sputtering lamp. The question is, how do we sharpen our mental focus? We need to develop a greater awareness of how and what occupies our minds. Are the things we’re paying attention to worth our time and energy, or are they irrelevant, distracting, and superficial? If you get into the habit of asking these questions, you can begin to catch yourself before you go down an information rabbit hole, and before you succumb to the lore of news alerts, social media notifications, and easy but shallow entertainment. So how do you find out if your attention needs tighter management? Well, you could try examining some of your habits. For example, do you really pay attention when you’re talking to people?
Mute the Noise in your Life
Granted, today’s tech-heavy world might make things difficult for us but muting the world’s noise can actually grow less difficult with a little practice. So how do we do it? It all comes down to habit formation. Indeed, habits can be tricky to acquire, but once you get them to stick, they’re usually there to stay. That implies that by cultivating a few new behaviors, we can actually make time for our family and friend. Essentially, forming just a few new habits will make it easier to mute the noise in your life. One way that we can practice the habit of streamlining and simplifying our life is by starting with our possessions. Take a look around your room, under the bed, and at the back of your wardrobe. Ask yourself, do I really need everything that you see there? Probably not. Practicing minimalism we’re getting ourselves used to declutter. And after that, the transition from clearing out your home to decluttering your mind feels like a very small one. You see, much of our precious attention is spent judging and pondering things that at the end of the day, have nothing to do with us. The next time you’re in a group, notice how your mind starts to issue judgments, draw conclusions, and formulate irrelevant opinions. Take a second to ask yourself whether the things you’re brooding over have any effect on you whatsoever. If they don’t, dismiss them. Remember, your attention is a precious commodity. Once you’ve dismissed your internal monologue, return your attention to the conversation at hand and practice active listening, which means listening closely in order to understand, not to agree, argue, or even come up with solutions. If you take the time to develop a few simple habits like decluttering your life, you’ll be surprised by the amount of energy and attention it frees up.